Islamabad, Pakistan: Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousufzai, who had to leave her home country of Pakistan in 2012 for medical treatment after she was shot by the Taliban – for advocating education for girls – has returned to Pakistan for a four day visit, including meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa among others. It was not clear if she would visit her hometown of Swat.
Accompanied by her parents, the 20-year-old Yousafzai was escorted through Islamabad’s Bhutto international airport under tight security.
Malala has become a global symbol for human rights and a vocal campaigner for girls’ education since a gunman boarded her school bus in the Swat valley on 9 October 2012, asked “Who is Malala?” and shot her.
Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck while she sat with classmates on a school bus as it prepared to drive students home after morning classes in Mingora, a city in the Swat valley, where the army mounted major operations in 2009 to crush a Taliban campain.
A Taliban spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, claimed responsibility on behalf of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Pakistani offshoot of the Taliban movement notorious for its restrictions of women’s freedom and female education during the five years before late 2001 when they were in power in Afghanistan.
“She was pro-west, she was speaking against Taliban and she was calling President Obama her ideal leader,” Ehsan told Reuters. “She was young but she was promoting western culture in Pashtun areas,” he said, referring to the main ethnic group in north-western Pakistan and Afghanistan from which the Taliban finds most of its followers.
The Taliban had previously announced the girl was on their “hit list” because of her backing for “the imposition of secular government” in Swat.
Yousafzai was severely wounded in the attack and was transported to several military hospitals in Pakistan, where doctors placed her into a medically induced coma in order for an air ambulance to fly her to Great Britain for further treatment of her injuries.
She was treated for her injuries in the British city of Birmingham, where she completed her schooling.
In 2014 Malala Yousafzai became the youngest person and the first Pakistani to win the Nobel Peace Prize and last year she was admitted to Oxford University to study philosophy, politics and economics.